Three years ago Stevie and I took a trip to Germany. Because she had never been there, I felt compelled to show her as much as I could of the country in the 10 days alloted. We rented a car and took in the cities of Berlin, Hannover, Munich and Cologne, as well as smaller towns and villages that showcased Germany's charm.
Close to the middle of the country, we stopped in my ancestral village of Partenheim, a mere hamlet of a thousand inhabitants in Germany's wine region that makes some seriously astounding wine. We stayed above one of the two bars in town and had dinner and drinks below. We quickly befriended the locals, and after three hours of conversation, we were gifted three bottles of Partenheimer wine and two wine glasses. Because the wine bottles bear my surname and because it is all but impossible to procure outside of Partenheim, my family tends to save them for special occasions.
We drank the first bottle on the night after our wedding in 2013, and opened the second bottle tonight, the night of our son's first birthday. Neale already had a party in Florida a few weeks ago, and another in our backyard last weekend, so tonight was about Stevie and me. It was about celebrating our first year as parents; the joyous highs and the maddening lows, the endless laughter and the endless crying, everything we have gained and everything we have sacrificed in the name of raising our son.
A year ago today we were in the hospital, exhausted and exhilarated from the previous 24 hours, amazed at what we (but mostly Stevie, of course) had just accomplished, and humbled by all that was to come. And tonight, a year later, we sat on the porch of our bed and breakfast here in Ithaca to take it all in and reflect.
At the end of the day I can still say I love being a father to Neale and husband to Stevie. To all those who have played a role in Neale's first year of life, big or small, I offer you my most sincere thanks. And here's to the next year of parenthood, and many more, whatever they may hold.